Van Buren County Hospital taking patient care to next level, utilizing telehealth | KTVO

A southeast Iowa hospital is taking patient care to a new level by utilizing telehealth.

The Avera E-Care system officially went live Wednesday at Van Buren County Hospital in Keosauqua.

Dr. William Felegi, emergency medicine physician, says this system will support the hospital with specialized doctors and nurses that can help in emergency situations.

He says Avera E-Care will play a vital role because the rural Van Buren County Hospital is considered a critical access hospital, meaning it sometimes has difficulty recruiting providers.

“I’m a board certified physician, I only work a 48-hour shift and therefore, the other shifts are covered by an advanced practitioner, whether that’s a PA or a nurse practitioner. What the Avera system allows us to do, is it allows any provider to immediately have telemedicine hook up with both audio and visual to be able to evaluate a patient with the provider, but the person on the other end is also a board certified emergency physician.”

The Avera E-Care Emergency team has implemented secure, interactive, high-definition video and audio equipment and software in the emergency department.

With just the push of a button, ER staff have immediate, virtual access to a team of physicians and nurses who specialize in emergency medicine.

Once the button is pressed, the E-Care team will activate a camera, which has the capability to zoom in and out and view all areas of the room, including the monitors that show patient vital signs.

Felegi says a microphone will allow Van Buren County Hospital staff to speak with the E-Care team and vice versa.

“What it allows us to do, it allows our community to have the care that they would receive at a more urbanized or suburban hospital.”

Teresa Johnson, service line manager for E-Emergency at Avera E-Care, says Van Buren County Hospital staff can connect with the virtual hospital hub, 24/7, 365 days a year.

“It’s a benefit to the bedside team members to have kind of that extra person in the room with them. To have an extra nurse to assist with nursing questions, nursing documentation, providers have an additional colleague that they can consult with.”

Felegi adds that he hopes the E-Care system is something other rural hospitals will consider implementing down the road.

“I think this is just a program where our leadership here and our medical staff are very forward thinkers, and I think this is a model for many other rural hospitals to be able to use to really be able to keep a board certified physician for supervision, but yet when not around, have that backup that they need.”

The Avera E-Care system is currently up in running at 190 sites in 13 different states.

Source: Van Buren County Hospital taking patient care to next level, utilizing telehealth | KTVO